Mumbai/Pune, 2nd December 2021: Until today morning, 861 international passengers have been tested with RT-PCR and 3 of them have been found positive in Maharashtra state. Samples of all three patients have been sent for genomic sequencing. Additionally, field surveillance of all international passengers who have arrived since 1st November is underway, informed the state public health department.
A total of 28 samples from both airport and field surveillance have been sent for genomic sequencing. Out of these, 12 are sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune and 16 to Kasturba Hospital laboratory. Out of these 28, 25 are international travellers and 3 are their close contacts. Genetic changes/mutation in viruses is a natural phenomenon and people should not panic, officials said.
The Public Health Department has appealed to the citizens that they should follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, inform the Public Health Department authorities if they have had an international travel history in the last month and those who have not taken Covid-19 vaccine or have had only one dose should complete their vaccination at the earliest.
On 26th November 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the Covid-19 virus variant detected in South Africa and some other countries Omicron. WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a ‘Variant of Concern’ Expert have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.
While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks’ time or so.